According to consensus, children are inherently manipulative and cannot be trusted. In fact, it’s a green light to ignore them even more. If a child loses their temper, it is automatically construed as manipulation. But what if it isn’t? When will the world be ready to entertain the possibility that children, like adults, feel pain? When will the world be ready to entertain the possibility that children, like adults, have needs?
In the case children are manipulating their parents, I completely get it. Manipulation is necessary as a survival response to gaslighting caregivers. The fact that some children DO need to manipulate is because they might feel unheard, unseen, and invalidated. And that’s not the child’s problem. That’s on the parents to see, hear, listen, understand, and validate whatever the child is concerned about or experiencing instead of our old ways of gaslightning.
As a kid, I had to exaggerate my needs and speak louder before anyone would hear me. I still find myself being over-dramatic as a knee jerk reaction even when I AM being heard as there is a younger aspect of myself that is still struggling to get my mom’s attention. If my parents had not heard my regular modest voice, I had to make it louder and and more powerful to get any acknowledgment if any at all. So we kids do whatever we can to get our parents to pay attention.
I had a friend who would vomit (somehow) to compete with her sister to get her parent’s attention. What’s going on in that home that this kind of competition has to even exist at all?
The bottom line is that adults aren’t the only ones who have needs, boundaries, problems, physical illness, bad days and pains. In fact, kids feel emotions more than adults since adults are much more shut down. Adults are generally shut down BECAUSE they were gaslighted and/or ignored as children (due to the “children are to be seen and not heard” era), so somewhere down the line, we, as adults, need to become aware of this problem and change the paradigm so we can have healthy adults for a change. I have never met a healthy adult in my lifetime, so if things changed in the home (the source of most wounds), we wouldn’t all be so sick.